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Masay 5768

Matot-Masay (Numbers 30-36 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING! My father always says that "Free advice is worth what you pay for it." The following piece is an exception to that rule -and perhaps an antidote to another old saying "Being a parent is perhaps the only job where by the time you are finally trained, you are out of the job."


Two important principles for interacting with your children are: (1) Know and follow the values you want your children to live with, and (2) Understand them from their point of view.

Parents should list the main values and principles for living that they want their children to master. (Actually, this is good advice for all human beings - it gives insight into what you consider to be of the highest importance.) What specific positive traits do you want your children to have? Make a list for each child.

A parent who is confident with himself and his values, and creates a loving relationship with his children will find that his children will listen to him. When telling your children to do or not to do something, your voice needs to show confidence that you expect your children to listen to what you say. If you sound as if you don't really expect your children to listen to you, they will pick up your non-verbal message and are likely not to listen.

Be clear and specific when telling your children what they should or should not do. Telling a child to "be good" is so vague and general that it is not likely to be effective.

When you see things from your child's point of view, you will be careful to respect his feelings and thoughts. This will give your children a sense of self-respect and respect for others.

Think about how you wanted to be treated when you were a child. Taking individual differences into consideration, act that way towards your children. Keep in mind that no child ever wants to be insulted or ridiculed by their parents; you didn't as a child, neither do your children now.

Don't threaten your children. When you threaten a child, you create unnecessary anxiety and fear. If you make threats that you both know you won't keep, you are teaching them not to take what you say seriously. Threats automatically imply that you think there is a possibility that your children will not listen to you.

Never give your children negative labels. Negative labels create negative self-image which is highly destructive.

Interacting with your children gives you many opportunities to develop you own character. Some of the essential attributes to focus on are: patience, humility, empathy, compassion, perseverance and resilience. Bring out the best in each child. What more can you do that you are not yet doing?

Don't expect perfection when interacting with your children. Everyone makes mistakes. If you feel that you have made mistakes in the past, begin again now. Be totally committed to creating a loving relationship with each of your children!

(adapted from Begin Again Now - Encyclopedia of Strategies for Living by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin -currently out of print)

For more on "Raising Children" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

Masei includes the complete list of journeys in the desert (the name of each stop hints at a deeper meaning, a lesson learned there). God commands to drive out the land's inhabitants, to destroy their idols and to divide the land by a lottery system. God establishes the borders of the Land of Israel. New leadership is appointed, cities of the Levites and Cities of Refuge (where an accidental murderer may seek asylum) are designated. Lastly, the laws are set forth regarding accidental and willful murder as well as inheritance laws only for that generation regarding property of a couple where each came from a different tribe. And thus ends the book of Numbers!

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"Cities of Refuge they shall be for you, and the
murderer who killed someone unintentionally shall flee there." (Numbers

Fleeing to the City of Refuge gave the accidental murderer physical protection, but what did it do for his psyche?

The Chidushai HaRim, a famous commentary, expounds that if a member of Klal Yisroel, the Jewish people, kills someone, even though it was unintentional he will feel extremely broken and guilty. He will be so shattered that he will feel that he has no place in the world to go and hide. Then the Almighty tells him, "I will give you a place." Go to the exile of the Refuge City and you will be saved. There you can find peace of mind. But this only applies to someone who has a depth of understanding of what damage he has caused. If a person does not feel this deep regret and still feels he has a place in this world, the City of Refuge does not benefit him in this manner.

When you harm another person and feel regret about it, there is a
benefit from your pain - if it motivates you to make amends, be more
careful and improve your behavior. Someone who causes another person
a loss or suffering and does not feel guilty manifests a lack of
caring about others.

Someone once came to the Steipler Rav and asked the rabbi for a blessing that he should be found innocent in court for a violation of a traffic law. Instead of a blessing, the rabbi censured him, "If you violate a traffic law, you are endangering the lives of other people. You are therefore deserving of the biggest punishment."

If you do wrong, regret your actions, ask for forgiveness, make amends and correct your ways to avoid a repetition in the future.

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To be loved, be lovable.
-- Ovid

Happy Anniversary
Alvin & Evelyn Brown

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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Copyright Rabbi Kalman Packouz 2008


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